Toyota Tacoma Towing Capacity Guide

Toyota Tacoma Towing Capacity Guide

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The Toyota Tacoma is a venerable little truck. Spanning three generations and over 20 years, the Tacoma is the ideal work truck that doubles as a daily driver.

Powered by your choice of inline 4cyl motor or V6, coupled to a manual or automatic transmission, the Tacoma is ideal for hauling bags of mulch and hockey gear while still driving to work every day. In this article, we’ll go over Toyota Tacoma towing capacity by model, year, and generation. Let’s get started.

1st Gen Tacoma (1995-2004)

Toyota Tacoma 2004

The 1st generation Tacoma debuted with three engine choices; a 2.4 liter 4cyl, a 2.7 liter 4cyl, and a 3.4 liter V6. The 4 cylinder engines produce 142-150 hp and 160-177 lb-ft. The V6 makes 190 hp and 220 lb-ft. Towing capacity with either 4 cylinder engine is 3,500 pounds with automatic or manual transmission.

The V6 can tow a maximum of 5,000 pounds with the automatic transmission; the general rule of thumb is to stick to 3,500 pounds if you have the V6 manual. The clutch cannot handle the heavier loads. Additionally maximum hauling capacity is 1800 pounds with the Regular Cab configuration and the V6.

The 1st gen Tacoma sold with both 2WD and 4WD; however, towing capacity does not change between two drivetrain combinations. A locking differential was offered on the TRD package, which makes towing safer in slippery conditions.

A somewhat rare option was a dealer-installed TRD supercharger for the 3.4 liter V6; this boosted power to 255 hp and 270 lb-ft, on par with a current 3rd gen Tacoma. If you can find a V6 Tacoma with the supercharger installed, hang on to it; that is a near-perfect truck.

 Payload capacity for the 1st gen Tacoma is 1600 pounds with either 4 cylinder engine. However, neither the 2.4 nor 2.7-liter engines will like having 1600 pounds in the bed. This is safest done with automatic transmission.

The stock clutches on manual Tacomas do not like the loads and heat from heavy towing/hauling; this is consistent across all generations. Payload capacity rises to 1900 pounds with the 3.4 liter V6. The bigger and heavier V6 engine takes weight better than either 4 cylinders, even with manual transmission.

However, the same problems remain with manual clutches. Still, the 3.4 liter V6 deals with heavy payloads much better than its 4 cylinder brothers.  

Towing Capacity by Cab Configuration

Towing capacity for the 1st gen Tacoma varies depending on cab configuration. Tacomas with the 2.7 liters 4 cylinders can tow a maximum of 3500 pounds regardless of cab configuration. However, V6 Tacomas with the Xtra Cab can tow a maximum of 500 pounds, with automatic transmission, and 2WD or 4WD.

Double Cab V6 Tacomas can tow a maximum of 6400 pounds, again with automatic transmission and 2WD or 4WD. All other towing capacity limits are dependent on bed length.  

Pros

  • 1st gen Tacomas are cheap
  • Towing capacity is decent for such a small truck
  • Very simple and tough

Cons

  • Frame rust issues
  • Cannot carry or tow anywhere near loads of current trucks
  • Engines are slightly underpowered

2nd Gen Tacoma (2005-2015)

Toyota Tacoma 2010

The 2nd gen Tacoma was larger and more powerful than the midsize truck it replaced. The 2.7 liters 4 cylinders remained, but the 3.4 liters V6 grew to 4.0 liters and produced 250 hp and 280 lb-ft. The 2nd gen Tacoma also stuck with a six-speed manual transmission and five-speed automatic, mated to your choice of 2WD or 4WD.

Towing and hauling capacity is the same from 2WD to 4WD. Towing capacity with the 4cyl and either automatic or manual is restricted to 3,500 pounds.

The V6, equipped with manual or automatic, can tow 6,500 pounds. Hauling capacity is a maximum of 1650 pounds with either engine. However, the truck will struggle with 1600 pounds in the bed regularly.  

Towing and hauling capacity is not affected by cab configuration or drivetrain, only the engine. Maximum towing capacity with the 4 cylinders is 3,500 pounds with 2WD or 4WD, and maximum towing with the V6 is 6,500 pounds, with 2WD or 4WD.

An important note is that the dealer-installed TRD supercharger was still an option on the 2nd gen Tacoma. While it does not increase towing or hauling capacity, it boosts horsepower and torque to well over 300 and will make work easier. Locking differentials are standard on the TRD package Tacomas.

Payload capacity is a maximum of 1,650 pounds with the 4.0 liter V6; it is restricted to 1100 on the 4-cylinder model. 1600 pounds is the maximum you can carry with no passengers in the truck and no trailer; try to carry that weight along with towing, and you will have expensive problems.

Realistically, with 4 passengers and assorted gear, your payload capacity will be 900-1050 pounds. However, that is a lot of hockey or camping gear. Plan and drive accordingly, and you will not have any problems.  

Towing/Payload Capacity by Trim Level

The 2nd gen is limited on towing and payload capacity according to trim level. For instance, the SR, SR5, TRD Sport, and TRD Off-Road trim, can tow a base weight of 3,500 pounds with the V6 or 2.7 liters 4-cylinder engine.

However, when equipped with the tow package, the V6 Tacoma can tow a maximum of 6500 pounds. The Tow package includes a bigger trans cooler, power steering cooler, 4/7 pin connecter with a converter, and a trailer sway controller.  

Payload capacity also changes. SR and SR5 Tacomas can haul a maximum of 1650 pounds. TRD Sport Tacomas are limited to 1500. Finally, TRD Off-Road Tacomas can haul a maximum of 1395 pounds. These numbers are for V6 Tacomas; 4-cylinder Tacomas are restricted to 1100 pounds of payload capacity.

These numbers do not change whether the truck is 2WD or 4WD, manual or automatic. However, for regular towing and hauling, a V6 Tacoma with 4WD and an automatic transmission is your best bet.  

Towing Capacity by Cab Configuration

Towing capacity for the 2nd gen Tacoma varies depending on cab capacity. Tacomas with the 2.7 liters 4 cylinders can tow a maximum of 3500 pounds regardless of cab configuration. However, V6 Tacomas with the Access Cab can tow a maximum of 6500 pounds, with automatic transmission, and 2WD or 4WD. Double Cab V6 Tacomas can tow a maximum of 6400 pounds, with automatic transmission, and 2WD or 4WD. All other towing capacity limits are dependent on bed length.  

Pros

  • Bigger and more capable than the 1st gen Tacoma
  • TRD supercharger makes towing much easier
  • Towing capacity is not affected by transmission choice

Cons

  • The truck will struggle with heavier loads, towing or hauling
  • The clutch on manual Tacomas will not take heavy loads for very long
  • Locking differentials only on TRD packages; may make towing difficult without

3rd Gen Tacoma (2016-2021)

Toyota Tacoma 2021

The 3rd gen Tacoma, introduced for the 2016 model year, was even bigger and heavier than the 2nd gen it replaced. The 2.7 liters 4 cylinder remains, but the V6 is an all-new 3.5-liter unit Toyota debuted.

The 2.7 liters 4 cylinder still produces 159 hp and 181 lb-ft, but the V6 now makes 270 hp and 250 lb-ft. The six-speed manual carries over, but a new six-speed automatic is available. 

The 6-speed manual, unfortunately, still has the same clutch issues that cause premature wear. The solution is an aftermarket clutch. Towing capacity is still 3,500 pounds with the 4-cylinders, manual or automatic. Towing capacity with the V6 rises to 6800 pounds, with manual or automatic transmission.

These numbers are not affected by the truck being 2WD or 4WD. The dealer-installed TRD supercharger is still an option, and Magnuson makes a supercharger for the 3rd gen Tacoma. The towing and hauling numbers do not change, but the extra power makes life easier. 

Payload capacity goes by bed length with the 3rd gen Tacoma. Short bed Tacomas with 2.7 liters 4-cylinder engine or 3.5 liter V6, can haul 1175 pounds. Long bed Tacomas can haul 1370 pounds. That number will vary depending on how many passengers and how much gear you have with you. 

Towing/Payload Capacity by Trim Level

The 3rd gen Tacoma is limited on towing capacity according to trim level. For instance, the SR, SR5, TRD Sport, and TRD Off-Road trim, can tow a base weight of 3,500 pounds with the V6 or 2.7 liters 4-cylinder engine. However, when equipped with the tow package, the V6 Tacoma can tow a maximum of 6700-6800 pounds.

The Tow package includes a bigger trans cooler, power steering cooler, 4/7 pin connecter with a converter, and trailer sway controller.  

Payload capacity also changes. SR and SR5 Tacomas can haul a maximum of 1685 pounds. TRD Sport Tacomas are limited to 1525 pounds. Finally, TRD Off-Road Tacomas can haul 1395 pounds.

These numbers do not change whether the truck is 2WD or 4WD, manual or automatic. However, for regular towing and hauling, a V6 Tacoma with 4WD and an automatic transmission is your best bet.  

Towing Capacity by Cab Configuration

Towing capacity for the 3rd gen Tacoma varies depending on cab capacity. Tacomas with the 2.7 liters 4 cylinders can tow a maximum of 3500 pounds regardless of cab configuration.

However, V6 Tacomas with the Access Cab can tow a maximum of 6800 pounds with the tow package, automatic transmission, and 2WD or 4WD.

Double Cab V6 Tacomas can tow a maximum of 6500 pounds with Tow Package, again with automatic transmission, and 2WD or 4WD. All other towing capacity limits are dependent on bed length.  

Pros

  • TRD supercharger still an option
  • Towing and hauling numbers increase with the new 3.5 liters V6
  • 3rd gen Tacoma is a very reliable truck 
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Cons

  • The truck will still struggle to haul heavy loads; slightly underpowered
  • The clutch on the manual transmission cannot handle the power
  • 3rd gen Tacoma is down on capability compared to certain rivals

FAQs

Question: I want to use my V6 Tacoma to Tow and Haul Regularly. Is That a Good Option?

Answer: The V6 Tacoma is as good a midsize truck as any, and for loads, up to about 4500 pounds, it will tow just fine. However, the transmissions have long gearing, making it difficult to tow heavier loads for extended periods.

If you tow for extended periods frequently, get something like a diesel Chevy Colorado or even a Silverado. The extra power will not be wasted.

Question: Is a 4-cylinder Tacoma a Good Truck to Daily Drive and Tow Occasionally?

Answer: It depends on your lifestyle. The 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engines get similar mileage and extra power from the V6 is great to have. If you are on the fence, spend the extra money and get the V6; you will not regret it.

Question: I am Choosing Between a V6 Tacoma and a V6 Chevy Colorado. Which One Should I Get?

Answer: Tacoma and Colorado are roughly equal sizes. Colorado makes 300 hp to Tacoma’s 280, but the Toyota is a much tougher, and more reliable truck overall. The Toyota rides rougher and is not as luxurious, but for a work truck/investment, the Toyota is better.

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